AGC drops criminal defamation charge against lawyer M. Ravi, issues conditional warning

Mr M. Ravi was charged on Dec 16, 2020, with criminal defamation. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A criminal charge against lawyer M. Ravi for defaming Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam on Facebook has been withdrawn, after he took down the post and apologised.

In a statement on Wednesday (March 3), the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said it had decided to discontinue the criminal proceedings against Mr Ravi and administer a conditional warning to him.

The decision was made after careful consideration of representations made by Mr Ravi's defence counsel, the statement said.

Under the conditions accepted by Mr Ravi, he has to delete the offending post and publish an apology and an undertaking not to repeat the allegations.

Mr Ravi was charged on Dec 16 last year with criminal defamation, an offence that carries a jail term of up to two years or a fine, or both.

The charge was over a post published by Mr Ravi on his Facebook page on Nov 6 last year.

Mr Ravi alleged in the post that fellow lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam had told him that Mr Shanmugam had said he "wields influence over the Chief Justice" and calls the shots and controls the CJ.

On the same day, Mr Thuraisingam wrote to Mr Shanmugam, saying "there is absolutely no truth whatsoever" to Mr Ravi's allegations.

Mr Thuraisingam also posted a copy of the letter on his Facebook page, referring to Mr Ravi's Facebook post as "false and completely untrue".

According to the AGC's statement on Wednesday, Mr Ravi had removed the offending post by Feb 25.

"Mr Ravi has also published a written apology and undertaking, in which he accepts that the allegations in the offending post are false and completely without foundation," said the AGC's statement.

"He has also undertaken not to publish any further statements on this issue, or to make any allegations to the same or similar effect, in any manner whatsoever."

On Wednesday, the charge was withdrawn and Mr Ravi was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.

This means that the charge may be revived if Mr Ravi breaches any of the conditions to the warning.

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